Gum Recession – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Gum Recession - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Gum recession is when gums become pushed back or worn away, exposing the root of the tooth. This can lead to sensitivity and pain, and can expose the teeth to infection, decay, and eventually, bone and tooth loss, if left untreated.


Gum recession is most common in adults over the age of 40 and can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • brushing too hard in the long-term
  • using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • plaque build-up from poor dental hygiene
  • periodontal (gum) disease
  • tongue piercings
  • misaligned teeth
  • damage from dental work
  • heredity
  • smoking or any tobacco use


Common symptoms of gum recession include:

  • sensitivity to cold and heat
  • changing tooth appearances, such as when the tooth appears longer and space increases between gums and teeth
  • bleeding after brushing or flossing
  • red, swollen gums
  • bad breath
  • loose teeth

However, many people may not experience symptoms, and; thus, they may not be aware that their gums are receding.

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Even though receding gums won’t grow back, there are several treatment options to prevent them from receding further. Treatment for gum recession will depend on the underlying problem. For example, if an infection is found, antibiotics may be prescribed. If you have bacteria in between the spaces where gums are receding, a deep cleaning procedure (i.e. scaling and root planing) may be performed

In severe cases, surgery may be required by a periodontist to remove bacteria that’s deep under your gums or to replace missing gum tissue. There are generally two types of surgeries for gum recession: flap surgery and gum grafting.

Flap surgery. During flap surgery, deep gum tissue cleaning is performed to get rid of bacteria and tartar within the gums.

Gum grafting. Gum grafting involves placing a piece of synthetic material or healthy gum tissue from another part of your mouth onto the affected roots to reduce the appearance of receding gums and to protect the sensitive tooth roots.


The best way to prevent gum recession is to brush your teeth gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush. In addition, maintaining good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing daily can prevent gum disease, which causes receding gums. Biannual dental cleanings and checkups are also important to ensure all gum disease-causing tartar is removed and any early signs of gum disease can be identified and treated.

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